by Erika L. Sánchez
Santiago Meza López, known as “el Pozolero”
in the Mexican news media, has confessed to
dissolving the remains of 300 people in acid while
working for a top drug trafficker.
—The New York Times
Even the trees here cringe— a heat
sticky like tamarind pulp.
The blindfolded bull is alone again,
walks in dusty circles around the block
and tries to lift the cloth
by blowing through his nose.
Juárez: behind the Hollywood Club
(Live Girls XXX),
an elegant skeleton
on the back of his silk shirt.
A necklace of dried nipples
lays on his chest.
He lowers his head, eyelids
tattooed with open eyes.
In the name of the holy…
The town is named after fleas,
where the narcotraffickers have built
palaces bordered by concrete walls
embedded with broken Coca Colas.
Next door, Jovita washes shit
from the tripe. In the river she scrubs
until it’s bright as teeth,
until no excrement
is left in the honeycomb pattern.
Jovita’s son, the boy nicknamed Mal hecho,
badly made, runs along the river
chasing chickens, huaraches slapping
against cracked feet.
He knocks at every house,
to feed the pigs. When he’s finished,
he climbs a ladder
to peer next door, careful
not to touch the broken glass, studies the macaws
spreading their wings, snickers
when they squawk ¡cabrón! ¡cabrón!
In a Tijuana club a young woman straddles
a man. He tugs her neon panties
and she is not shaved, but he doesn’t care. Black
lights flicker, illuminate his teeth,
the acne pits on his cheeks. Everyone moving
in slow motion, like an old filmstrip,
like what is happening
couldn’t possibly be true. There are mirrors
at every angle, everyone multiplied
by 6, 8, 10
impossible to know
whose body belongs to who. The woman
Mal hecho and other boys gather
in a burnt-yellow house
at the edge of town where they watch Lucha Libre
on a scrambled screen, cheer
as they steady the hanger antenna.
The walls are covered in newspaper—
headlines like Turismo Zapatista and
El ‘Pozolero’ pide disculpas.
First, ass in face, then she lowers herself,
lets him trace the spidery angel
wings faded to green
on her back. He drags his tongue
along his teeth and remembers how easily
a body dissolves in a vat
of acid, how first, the flesh
how only the bones endure.